Chapter Eleven: Unrest
"You seem kinda brighter this evening."
Nancy slid into the booth of the local burger hangout, eying her friend carefully. "You feeling better?"
Copper smiled, pinching one of her friend's fries from her plate, and nodding.
"Actually, I am." She admitted. "I think the time out really helped. I met up with an old business associate of Mama's, and she was really sweet to me...she understood a lot of things. It helped just to talk to someone totally unconnected, you know?"
"If you say so." Nancy shrugged. Copper grinned.
"I'm kinda touched you're fussed about me." She admitted. "I know how much you hate public displays of friendship."
"Well, I guess I can make an exception sometimes." Nancy blushed. "I should've remembered, Copper, I'm sorry."
"It's not your fault." Copper shook her head. "I should be over it by now, anyway. Papa wouldn't want me to mope and that's what I was doing earlier."
"P'raps a little." Nancy grinned wryly. "So, who's this business associate you chatted to? Whoever it was seems to have cleared your head brilliantly."
"Phoebe Asche." Copper took a sip of her milkshake.
"Come again?" Nancy looked blank.
"Rapture, from the Stingers." Copper explained. Nancy frowned.
"You talked to a Stinger?" She demanded.
"Yeah...aw come on, Nance, tisn't like that." As her friend looked doubtful. "Phoebe's been out of town a long time, and she's not involved in admin at Rebel Records. She's just friends with them, that's all. And she was really sweet to me, like she totally understood."
"Well, okay." Nancy shrugged. "I'm glad you feel better, anyhow. Must admit I don't know much about Rapture...Mom's only ever been derisive and abusive towards the Stingers but I guess she could be biased."
"Jetta knows where her paycheck's coming from, and her loyalties lie there." Copper replied. Nancy frowned.
"Mom's more loyal than that." She returned sharply. "Money isn't part of it."
"Oh, I didn't mean it like that." Copper sighed. "I meant more that Jetta knows which side she's on from the start...with Phyllis and Misfit Music. Everything important in her life lies with that and you and everything. But Mama was never signed to Misfit Music, and I haven't any personal grudge to bear Phoebe regarding the Stingers. Mama's never really said much about them, though I know she disliked Rory Llewelyn. So...I don't feel like I should judge her because Rory's a slimy creep. Business is business, after all."
"Yeah, guess I see where you're coming from." Nancy nodded. "I dunno though. Maybe I'm just too much a Misfit kid, but I can't see myself ever trusting a Stinger."
"Well, you don't know Phoebe. She's nice." Copper replied with a shrug. "She offered to help me out, too, you know."
"Help you out? How so?" Nancy looked startled. Slowly Copper explained. Nancy snorted.
"A medium? What, she talks to invisible people and pretends to read minds, does she?"
"Nancy, she's not like that! It's a proper organisation...not just some backstreet psychic scam. I looked her up on the internet...found her business' webpage. It gets thousands of hits a day and it's all very professional. She's not having me on!"
"Well, at least you did look it up." Nancy frowned. "Look, Copper, I know your father meant the world to you, but...I dunno if you should be dabbling in things like that. You dunno where it will end up."
"I know, and I'm not sure I will." Copper replied. "I'm gonna talk to Mama in the morning, anyway. But I thought it was sweet of her to offer to help me, anyway."
"Maybe." Nancy shrugged. She glanced at her watch. "Well, it's half eight and you got a date with Aaron outside the multiplex in ten minutes, so I'm gonna fly." She remarked. "Have a good evening, Copper, and don't stop out too late, huh?"
"I'll try not to." Copper smiled. "Later, Nance."
Once she had left the restaurant, Nancy slipped into the front seat of her car, turning things over in her mind. Instead of driving straight back to Starlight Mansion, she found herself pulling the car into the parking lot of Misfit Music, and heading upstairs to her mother's office. She knew Jetta would be working late, for she often did on a Friday night, in order to give herself Saturday morning free, so she knocked on the door, hoping her mother wasn't too busy.
The familiar clipped English tones called her in, and slowly she swung open the door, slipping inside.
"Nancy!" Jetta looked surprised.
"I know you're working, but I need to talk to you about something." Nancy said carefully, sitting down in a vacant seat.
"Talk to me?" Jetta was startled. "'Ere, you ain't in trouble, are you?"
"No, nothing like that." Nancy reassured her. "No, this is something else. You knew the Stingers pretty good, right?"
"Too right I did." Jetta scowled. "Nasty, slimy creatures, the lot of 'em."
"What did you make of Rapture?"
"Rapture?" Jetta raised an eyebrow. "Why Rapture all of a sudden?"
"Please, Mom...I need to know."
"Well." Jetta perched on the edge of her desk, setting her folder of papers down. "First time I met Rapture was when she an' the other Stingers - Riot an' Minx as it were then - invaded the Gabor place. An' I'll tell you now, I ain't never known a woman as sneaky or as duplitious as that one. Keep away from 'er, Nance. Within a week or so of knowin' us, she'd made a fool out of Pizzazz, an' pretty much sidelined us all. She's a canny customer an' too clever for 'er own good. She'd con 'er own grandmother if she could make a profit."
"That's what I was afraid of." Nancy looked troubled.
"What do you mean?" Jetta eyed her daughter keenly. "What;s 'appened?"
Slowly Nancy outlined all Copper had told her, and by the time she'd finished, Jetta's expression too was grave.
"You think Rapture's messing with her?"
"No...I know she is." Jetta said quietly. "Because I know the kind of witch she is. You can tell Copper from me, Stingers are bad news. Okay?"
"I will do." Nancy promised. "Thanks, Mom. I'll let you get back to work now."
"Ta." Jetta rolled her eyes. "Jewel are s'posed to be 'ere at 'alf one tomorrow afternoon, remember?"
"I know." Nancy nodded. "Night, Mom. Thanks again."
As she left Misfit Music, she found her thoughts returning to her friend, and despite herself she sighed. Never a people person, Nancy was nothing if not loyal once she had put her trust in someone, and Copper had always been a friend to her. Now she wanted very much to be a good friend in return.
"But I don't want to upset her either." She mused. "Man, I wish I understood more how to read people. I haven't a clue how to discuss this with her. She seems to like Rapture so much...and it's cheered her up no end. Would it really be so bad if she carried on thinking things were fine and that the woman was for real? How bad could it be, anyway?"
She sighed again.
"No, that's no good...if Rapture's as bad as Mom says she'll just hurt Copper twice over. No, the truth is best. Thing is, how do I tell her?"
She flicked on the car's indicator, turning onto the street where the Starlight Mansion stood.
"Well, at least tonight she's out. I can leave it till tomorrow." She mused. "And if she's going to see Carmen then too...well, maybe in the end I won't have to say a thing. We'll see. Maybe it'll turn out fine, after all."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Kimber swung open the door of the Jacqui Benton House, eying her visitor in surprise. "Are you here to see Raya?"
"Yes, if I can...if you're not too busy." Copper faltered slightly, remembering her failed call the day before, but Kimber smiled at her, shaking her head.
"No, we're just sitting discussing music, that's all." She assured her. "We can certainly spare your mother for a little while. I'll go get her for you."
"Thanks." Copper dimpled. "It's kinda important I speak to her."
"Okay." Kimber grinned. "Won't be a second."
She disappeared into the big lounge, and moments later re-appeared with Carmen in tow. The actress smiled when she saw her daughter.
"Hola." She said. "What is it, Copper? Something wrong?"
"I tried to call you yesterday but they said you were busy." Copper said slowly. "I kinda hoped we could talk today?"
"Oh! Of course we can." Carmen linked arms with her daughter, leading her out into the spacious back garden the house boasted, and sitting down on a bench. "I'm sorry, Copper. I did not know, else I would have phoned you as soon as we were through."
"It's okay." Copper assured her. "It's just...well, Mama, did you forget what yesterday was?"
"I never forget, Copper." Carmen said gravely. "Your father was the love of my life...my soulmate. I never forget. But sometimes...well, you have to just get on and do things. He'd want that...you know he would."
"He made me promise, before he died, that I'd go on and do great things with my life." Copper remembered with a half-smile. "Mama, do you think I've done enough to satisfy him?"
"I think he'd be glowing with pride to see you now." Carmen nodded. "He and I both always wanted our children to do things they're happy doing...and you are happy, aren't you?"
"Yes...I love Jewel more than I ever imagined I would when that scout first came to see me in Detroit." Copper nodded her head, leaning up against her mother. "And you and I have been closer, too...I like that. I felt very alone when he died."
"So did I." Carmen frowned. "Often I still do...but you guys help."
"Guess I kinda know what Syl's going through some." Copper realised. "Though she's not lost her father like I did. I mean, she and he aren't totally on speaking terms at the moment...though I'm sure they'll iron it out."
"I hope so." Carmen nodded. "Chiquita, I'm sorry I didnt take your call yesterday, I really am."
"It's fine. I coped." Copper smiled. "I met an old acquaintance of yours too, while we were out on the beach."
"Oh?" Carmen looked interested.
"Oh!" Shock flashed into the actress' blue eyes, then, "What did she have to say?"
"She was sweet. She asked me about you and about Dad...and she was very kind to me. I was feeling a bit messed up, you know, thinking about Dad and all, but she helped."
"She...helped?" Carmen looked confused. "Rapture helped you?"
"Yes." Copper nodded, then, "Mama, I want so much to know what Papa thinks of things now. I want to know that he understands why I didn't graduate...why I didn't go to law school. I want to know he's proud of me...that he loves me as much as he ever did, and that he's not really gone...you know?"
"We all want that." Carmen said quietly. "But Copper, he is gone. We cannot change it."
"Phoebe said that she knew a way I could talk to him."
"What?" Horror flooded Carmen's face. "What do you mean, talk to him?"
"I dunno how it works...but she's a medium now, she helps people get in touch with lost loved ones. She gave me her card." Copper fished in her pocket for the bent up card. "I found her page on the net, too. It's real popular, Mama...she must be good at what she does."
"Si. Good at conning people." Carmen took the card, glancing at it, her expression angry. "Copper, escuchame. Rapture is a conartist, pure and simple, and she is not to be trusted. She won't help you...and I don't want you going to her."
"No buts. I know the woman." Deftly Carmen ripped the card in two. "I know enough of her to know not to trust a word she speaks. She is dishonest and unkind and she will only hurt you. Your father loved you very much and I'm sure he still does, wherever he is. You do not need a so called medium to tell you that."
"I want to know!" Copper protested. "Okay, so maybe it won't work, but if I don't try I won't know, will I?"
"No, Mama! I'm an adult, I can choose what I want to do!"
"You are still a child, chiquita, if you believe in lies fed to you by a callous money-hungry conwoman who'd like nothing better than to spite you because you are my daughter." Now Carmen was really angry. "I mean it, Copper, stay away from her! She can only bring you sadness...what would your father say?"
"Papa told me to always keep an open mind and to do what I believed in." Copper choked out, tears blurring her sight. "And I mean to! I don't care what you think of her, she was nice to me and she wanted to help! That's more than you did...you couldn't even be bothered to talk to me, when you know how upset I get on the anniversary! You know I always dream about it...but you were too busy with your friends to bother about me! Well, Phoebe wasn't too busy...and I like her! So there!"
"Copper..." Carmen grabbed her daughter by the arm, but Copper pulled away, getting to her feet.
"No, Mama, dejame!" She exclaimed. "I'm going to see her, whether you like it or not! I want to know about Papa!"
"There's nothing she can tell you about your father and it's insulting to his ghost to even mention it!"
"What's wrong, Mama...afraid that you won't have any hold on me if I find a way to talk to my father?" Copper's tone was bitter. "Can't you cope with the idea of someone else being just as important as you are now in my life?"
"Copper, listen to yourself!" Carmen's temper was cooling now, replaced by a helpless, hurt fear of her daughter's words and intentions. "I love you, your Papa loved you. That's all that matters! We all care for you very much...don't go to Rapture. She will only break your heart over it."
"Well, we'll see." Copper shot back. "Adios, Mama."
With that she turned on her heel, stalking out of the garden and through the side gate to her waiting vehicle. She did not turn back, and it was a shame she did not, for if she had she would have seen the look of anguish and hurt on her mother's face, and the tears that spilled down Carmen's cheeks.
But she did not see, and her anger had no chance to fade into remorse or regret.
She slammed her car door shut, revving her engine and putting her foot firmly down on the accelerator pedal. If noone would listen to her, well, that was fine. Phoebe had listened...Phoebe would help her.
REUNITED: PART ONE
Chapter One: Copper's Idea
Chapter Two: Tackling Sylvina
Chapter Three: I'm Okay
Chapter Four: Preparations
Chapter Five: The Stingers
Chapter Six: Cynthia to the Rescue
Chapter Seven: The Holograms
Chapter Eight: Jack and Courtenay
Chapter Nine: Phoebe Asche
Chapter Ten: Copper
Chapter Eleven: Unrest
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